Bonding, Attractiveness, Sex, and Kissing: Are all of These Affected by Oxytocin?

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Is There Anything Oxytocin Can’t Do?

Oxytocin makes the process of childbirth smoother, bonds a baby to the mother, creates security among partners, and brings couples closer together, among other things (check out this post about oxytocin and the bond of sex). Scientists keep finding more and more amazing facets to this hormone.

 Men Viewing the Attractiveness of their Partner

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In a recent study, scientists took a group of men who were in a committed relationship for an average of just over two years. The men took whiffs of the hormone oxytocin (half were given a placebo) as they viewed pictures of their significant other. They also showed the men other pictures of women they knew as well as women who were of the “same attractiveness level” as their partners.

The men then rated the attractiveness of the picture of the various women. Men consistently rated their significant other more attractive than the other women. And, in most cases, the men who took a whiff of the oxytocin spray (and not the placebo) had a boosted effect.

In every case, the two parts of the brain responsible for feelings of rewards and pleasure lit up when they saw their significant other. Those with the oxytocin spray had a stronger reaction in their brain. Perhaps even more interesting was when they saw pictures of other women, it had the opposite effect. Seeing pictures of other women actually suppressed feelings of pleasure.

Experts suggest that over time oxytocin levels can lower and it can become relatively easy to grow apart. However, in a committed relationship, both partners must work at being together. It is easy to take the other for granted; consequently, when we are proactive with listening to our partner, holding hands, kissing, and other activities that release oxytocin, we are creating a stronger emotional bond. As that bond continues to strengthen, the relationship grows deeper than anyone could have possibly imagined. It is when you start hearing phrases like, “I am the luckiest person in the world. I have such a fulfilling relationship. I have never felt closer to another human being.” The list goes on and on.

My Suggestion

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The suggestion I have for my readers (whom I appreciate so much!) is to wait until marriage for sex. The more one bonds with another, the more complications there will be down the road, especially if he or she has bonded sexually with multiple partners (See this post: How Many Sexual Partners have You Had?).

When you do marry, spend time at making that relationship thrive. There may be issues and past hurts you have to work through, but it is worth it. The more effort you both put into the relationship, the more fulfilling your relationship will be. You will start to see that as you communicate and work through issues, you start to hold hands, kiss, stare into one another’s eyes, and enjoy the gift of sex. All of these actions will bring you two closer together. Marriage can be a blast!

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2 Comments on “Bonding, Attractiveness, Sex, and Kissing: Are all of These Affected by Oxytocin?”

  1. Great article! I agree, sex complicates the simple things in life if the foundation isn’t set. I have been married almost 13 years now and as I raise my 8 yr old daughter, I often think of you and the commitment to staying abstinant and how I can instill this in my teaching to her and my son. I am very grateful to have a wonderful relationship with my husband and when things get tough, it doesn’t feel like something we cannot conquer. Thanks!

    1. Thanks for your comment, Brenda! My Abby is only 6mo but everyone says children grow up so fast. Before I know it, Caz and I will be talking to her about these topics. Wow!

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